Signs of tempered progress in today’s Iraq
BAGHDAD — It’s been more than six years since a bomb ripped away the eyes from Shams Karim, killed her mother and left the little girl, now 7, blind and disfigured for life. Psychiatric drugs help control her outbursts of crying and screaming.
Throughout Iraq there are tens of thousands of victims like her whose lives are forever scarred by the violence of war. Their wounds — and those of tens of thousands of U.S. and other foreign service members — may never entirely heal.
In Baghdad, life goes on much as it has since the Ottoman sultan ruled these parts. Porters force loaded carts through narrow bazaars as amateur breeders’ beloved pigeons swoop overhead. The calls to prayer from turquoise-domed mosques provide a rhythm to the day.
Yet the legacy of a war that began a decade ago remains very much a part of life here too. Bullet holes still pockmark buildings, and towers wrecked by American missiles and tank shells have not fully been rebuilt. Iraqi soldiers in body armor corral cars into road-clogging checkpoints, their fingers close to the trigger, ever wary of the next attack. At 1 a.m., a curfew shuts down the capital’s streets, many still lined with blast walls.
It’s hard nowadays to find anybody in much of the country who hasn’t lost a friend or relative to the bloodletting that followed the U.S.-led invasion. Shams’ mother is buried among the densely packed graves in Najaf, where an ancient cemetery is at least 40 percent larger than it was before the war. Each new bombing sends more coffin-topped cars south to the hot, dusty city of the dead.
Bus carrying college lacrosse team crashes
CARLISLE, Pa. — A tour bus carrying a college’s women’s lacrosse team to a game went off the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Saturday and crashed into a tree, killing a pregnant coach and the driver and sending others to hospitals, authorities said.